Frequently parents ask me why “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” remains so popular 14 years after it was first published. I can suggest a few answers.
“Shepherding a Child’s Heart” provides parents with biblical advice. I believe the Bible is a true, timeless and trustworthy revelation of God that is never upstaged by more modern ideas. I have drawn my understanding of human needs and potential from the Bible. I have accepted the Bible’s prescriptions for the human malady as accurate and true.
“Shepherding a Child’s Heart” is a paradigm shift for most parents because it focuses on parental nurture (shepherding) rather than constraining and controlling external behavior. It recognizes that children, like adults, make choices that are driven by their hearts. When we behave badly or do things that are unkind it is because our hearts, at that moment, love something else more than we love God and others. Shepherding the heart involves helping children discern the internal motivations that shape their external behavior. It helps children discern not just the actions and/or the circumstances of behavior, but also the internal motivations of that behavior.
“Shepherding a Child’s Heart” helps parents bring the power and grace of the Gospel to their children. If the problem of behavior for children and adults is a heart that has strayed from God’s ways, the answer is the power and grace of God that can transform us internally. Grace cleanses, grace transforms, grace empowers; that’s a realistic message of hope for children and their parents.
A good test of a book is the other books that are produced to extend the same paradigm. My wife Margy and I have recently co-written Instructing a Child’s Heart. Several excellent titles by other authors come to mind as well: Get Outta My Face!, by Rick Horne, Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally about God with Your Children, by John A. Younts, Don’t Make Me Count to Three: a Mom’s Look at Heart-Oriented Discipline, by Ginger Plowman and Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, Second Edition (Resources for Changing Lives), by Paul David Tripp.